TRANSITIONS & RITES OF PASSAGE WORK

 

Transitions or threshold work honors the in-between or liminal places in our lives when we are passing between worlds~whether that is between the worlds of childhood and puberty, adolescence and adulthood, marriage and divorce, "wellness" and "illness," mid-life and elderhood or other major life shifts. When we are able to intentionally engage with these threshold passages, they offer us potent opportunities for transformation.  These liminal places are invitations from life itself~ a kind of soul call to release our attachment to our old identity, wander in the field of the unknown, surrender to the mysteries of life, meet our own fears and wounds, discover our gifts and capacities, and return to our community renewed. When we do this consciously, it brings great benefit to our own lives and to all those we are in relationship with.

Threshold: a portal, entrance, doorway

In support of life transitions, I offer:

  • Rites of passage/transitions programs and group facilitation for ages 10 and up (girls rites of passage offered through Threshold Journeys~a collaboration with Brie Anderson)

  • Co-created ceremonies that meaningfully honor and mark the passage through various thresholds and life changes: puberty, "graduation", partnership, parenting/birthing, mid-life, elderhood, relationship or identity shifts

  • Youth mentorship that supports young people to embrace and offer their gifts, develop their own sense of meaning and purose, and release patterns and beliefs that no longer serve them 

  • Personal consulting to adults, in which we engage in practices that catalyze the transformative power of transitions

 

In my own life, I have personally walked through many thresholds~from birthing children, to marriage, divorce, illness, the beginning of mid-life, and the near "fledging" of my adult children.  I have also supported the transitions of others through these very same passages~and have been particularly transformed by my walk with many women through birth and three dear friends through their deaths.  In the last ten years, I have been deeply involved in tending the passages of childhood and adolsescence~particularly with girls and young women. Please see About for more about my training in rites of passage work.

 

What are Rites of Passage?

The term “rites of passage” was first formally coined by Dutch anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep, to describe unique ceremonies and rituals in cultures around the world that mark transitions—the death of one phase of life and re-birth into another—and initiate new capacities, identities, and ways of being (i.e. puberty, childbirth, elderhood, etc.). These initiations inevitably involve a kind of radical redefinition of the initiate’s relationship to self, community and the mysteries of life.  Gennep named three distinct phases of this initiatory process—Separation (separating from the known world and former identity), Threshold (the liminal or inbetween place, the “wilderness”), and Reincorporation (returning “home” with the gifts from the threshold).

 

Rites of Passage are powerful enactments of these "initiations" and "crossings" that we make again and again in our lives. In our modern culture, many people unconsciously attempt to self-initiate~which often leads to degenerative or harmful ways of being. Adolescents may cut or turn to violence, join a gang, binge drink or drug; while  mid-lifers may have destructive affairs or spiral into addiction, consumerism, or workaholism.  An unsupported mother with a new baby may feel extreme isolation and confusing loss of her old self. She may never have had the opportunity to honor, release, and grieve the woman she was before becoming mother or to name the gains and losses that come with her new identity.  

 

When we consciously mark passages, when we  are seen and supported by our community in our emergence,  we are more able to access our sense of true belonging and deep connection to ourselves, one another, and life itself.  When we have forgotten what we belong to, we may spend our whole lives trying to fill or escape a pervasive sense of alienation. Rites of passage invite us into the wilderness of our own souls, to the edges of the known world~so that we can engage the Mystery of Life, ask the big questions, meet our own insecurities and shadows, dis-member the old identities that no longer serve, and re-member who we are and what we are here for at this particular time in our lives.

 

In our "modern world," we are re-imagining how to make these passages in ways that nourish the individual and community, renew culture, and awaken our sense of sacred responsibilty and reciprocity.  When our creative capacities are unleashed in service of Life, when we are "tapped" at the taproot from the seat of belonging~anything, yes anything, is possible. 

 

Please go to Youth Passageways to learn more about the Global Network of Rites of Passage organizations serving youth. And please consider supporting the upcoming groundbreaking documentary film entitled Rites of Passage by filmaker Fredrick Marx (Hoop Dreams) ~the "inconvenient truth" about this topic.  You can read more about my personal journey in the article Illness as Initiation.  

 

 

The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you

Don't go back to sleep!

You must ask for what you really want.

Don't go back to sleep!

People are going back and forth

across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don't go back to sleep!

~Rumi